A family road trip, in the planning stages, sounds like a blast. Let’s pack up the car and go for an adventure! The whimsy of this excursion fades approximately one hour into the trip when everyone in the car realizes that the only things keeping them from killing each other are a couple of coloring books and a large bag of Red Vines acquired at a ‘Loaf -n- Jug’ in Nebraska.
Mount Rushmore–an amazing work of art and engineering in the Black Hills of South Dakota. A mere 1,110 mile drive through nothingness and the destination of our first family road trip. I packed the car diligently, forgetting only our jackets, causing my husband to question my priorities, “There is a five-gallon drum of almonds and enough beef jerky to get us through a Canadian winter! How did jackets not make the list?” He clearly does not appreciate my love of a high-protein snack.
I may have forgotten jackets but I did pack enough bug spray to delouse a prison. I won’t go near anything remotely resembling nature without bug spray. I’m so terrified of ticks that I don’t leave the house unless I’m covered in Backwoods Off–this stuff is so ‘backwoods’ I swear I can hear banjos playing when I spray it.
“Are we there yet?” The phrase itself is innocuous, it’s the rapid-fire repetition that caused me to consider a nice kindergarten boarding school in Luxembourg. I sensed my husband’s head was about to explode so I distracted my daughter with a game of ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors.’ We actually abandoned the rock, paper, scissors part of this game a long time ago. We added in things like bologna sandwich, zombie, and bulldozer. I succeeded in distracting my daughter for an entire five minutes until we got into a heated debate of whether ‘rain’ beats ‘Egypt’ or vice versa.
After six gas stations, twelve sing-along CDs, and an in-depth discussion of why Taco Bell doesn’t serve french fries (I believe Taco Bell simply needs to reevaluate their moral code while my husband thinks it’s because fries don’t go with burritos; he’s just not the visionary I am), we arrived at our hotel. Only it wasn’t a hotel; on the website, it looked like a quaint little cabin nestled in the forest. Up close, it was a different story. I struggled to remember where I had seen this place before and then it came to me, “It’s that motel from ‘Psycho’!”
“Does everything remind you of a horror movie?” my husband inquired.
“Not everything,” I said and thought carefully. “Bath and Body Works.”
“What?” My husband looked at me then continued to unload the car.
“Bath and Body Works doesn’t remind me of a horror movie. It just smells so good in there. And the people that work there are always so nice. You know, now that I think about it, their elevated moods may be caused by the constant exposure to chemicals, but that is more of a clinical concern than a horror movie fear.”
“I’ll get us a hotel if you want,” my husband said.
“No, no, it’s fine. I’ll just check the bathtub for bodies.”
We survived the night in the Bates Motel and headed for Mount Rushmore early the next morning. It’s an amazing sight to behold–art, engineering, and history all carved into a mountain. We were in awe and spent a few breathless moments just taking it all in. We spent the next forty-five minutes posing our daughter strategically so that it looked like she was picking each of the presidents’ noses. Roosevelt proved to be especially tricky, but the photographs were well worth holding up that German tourist group.
We spent the next morning at the Crazy Horse Memorial. Another wonder of design and testimony of the human spirit. This monument is amazing and now the setting of our infamous family memoir entitled, “Mommy and the Bathroom Walk of Shame.” I was stricken with sudden gastrointestinal issues and in search of the restroom. Always at my side, my daughter insisted she come into the stall with me–a decision we both soon regretted. My daughter pushed herself against the stall door and screamed at the top of her lungs, “Oh Mommy! This is why I don’t like to leave the couch!” This declaration of her’s was met with laughter from every corner of the bathroom. I pondered how long we could live in that bathroom stall–I had bottles of water and a baggie of Goldfish. But alas, it was a bathroom stall and certainly my husband would miss us.
I did the only thing I could do: I held my head high, picked up my daughter, and announced to the women in that Crazy Horse bathroom, “Do not eat the churros!”
All in all, it was a great trip. We learned a lot of new things and now when my daughter and I use a public restroom, I always get my own stall.